Marshmallow Challenge

During opening meetings the faculty and staff took part in a Marshmallow Challenge activity after a presentation about our new makerspace, Spark.  Small groups embraced the difficult task and worked together to turn spaghetti, tape and string into a tall structure strong enough to support a marshmallow at the top.    Nice work everyone!  We look forward to many more collaborative activities in our makerspace in the future.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Remember the choose your own adventure books? You can make choose your adventure stories using Google Apps tools like Docs or YouTube.  Click here to see a really cool choose your own adventure YouTube video.  Want to get the nuts and bolts of how to create these stories? The following Google Presentation has directions and examples of how to make and use choose your own adventures stories in your classroom. Here is an example created by a 3rd grade class.

Extend the walls of your classroom with Global Projects

Collaborating with other classes around the world is a great learning experience for students.  The hardest part is finding projects. Look no further. is a great resource for finding and participating in PreK -6 global projects. There is a wide range of projects both in topic and length. Some projects are 1 day long others are longer term.

Making a Makerspace

Over the last couple of days members of the Innovation Committee have been hard at work putting together Pike’s pilot makerspace called “Spark”. The makerspace now has tools like hammers, drills, and screw drivers as well as electronics like Mindstorms and KIBO robots and other tools like 3D printers, vinyl cutters and button makers. The committee also spent time planning the use of the space so that students and teachers in each division would have an opportunity to come to the makerspace. There is still work to be done before school starts but we are looking forward to all the making coming up this year.


Kathy Cassidy on – Engaging Young Students with Technology


Check out this 10 min interview with Kathy Cassidy (1st grade teacher in Canada) on engaging your students with technology.  In the interview, she describes how she got started with technology and turned her classroom into a Global classroom. Below are some notes I took while watching the video. If, after watching the interview, you want more information, read Kathy Cassidy’s book Connected From the Start

Why have a global classroom and encourage global learning

  • We should all be global learners.
  • Social Media is already a part of our students lives. We should teach them how to do it in a safe way.
  • Teach students to have empathy.
  • Students know how to have fun with technology, but we want them to learn how to use technology to learn.
  • Teach students appropriate ways to act online.
  • Create a digital footprint that you are proud of.
 Tips on getting started with technology
  • Start with one thing. Let that be successful and then build on that.
  • Try Skype in the classroom.
  • Follow blogs of other teachers and then maybe start your own blog.
  • Get started by creating a network of teachers that can support you via twitter or blogs.

Innovation @ Pike

Originally published on Pike Perspectives

In Tony Wagner’s recent book titled Creating Innovators, he writes about the fundamental economic change that is occurring now and that will continue in the future.  He emphasizes that we are no longer in a knowledge economy, where knowing more than someone is a competitive advantage.  We now live in a society where any information can be “googled,” and what you accomplish with your expertise is more important than the knowledge itself.  Wagner and many others indicate that our current innovation economy requires a new generation of innovators that will be essential to America’s future. Pike students will be entering a world where problem-solving, multidisciplinary solutions, creativity, and collaboration will be very important skills. Pike has always provided opportunities for students to develop these innovation skills and qualities, and next year we will be building and extending that effort by creating a makerspace in the library.

What is a makerspace? I often describe a makerspace as a combination of Art and Science classes, mixing with technology, Shop and Home Economics class.  This will be a place where students are encouraged to “Invent to Learn” with tools like 3D printers for fabrication, electronics (Arduino and other microcontrollers), robotics, cardboard, hammers, and conductive tape.  In this space you will see students working together to build elaborate cardboard cities or pop-up books, completing Lego challenges, building toothpick bridges, programming a robot, building simple and parallel electrical circuits, and many other hands-on science, art, and engineering projects that promote the joy of learning. This new dedicated space, blended with a deliberate focus and the access to tools, equipment, and supplies will provide countless opportunities for creativity and innovation.  Our makerspace will offer an environment that fosters curiosity, and individuals can engage in hands-on experiential learning, creation, and exploration.

Throughout this past school year we have had a dedicated group of faculty (one or more from each division), librarians, staff, and administrators working in partnership to procure funds, design curriculum, and order materials for the new makerspace, and over the summer this same group will be working to transform the Tech Office behind the Library computer lab for this purpose.  A makerspace supports and extends Pike’s mission to develop lifelong, independent learners with a creative spirit and we are very excited to launch this new innovation space in the Pike Community.

Photo App Smash

We were so happy to see the awesome display of art from the iPad Photo App Smash Elective currently hanging outside the Upper School Music Room.

Here is a description of the elective from Upper School Art Teacher Chris Vivier:

Using their iPad cameras and a variety of apps in various combinations, the students in this elective course have created these amazing images!  The exercises performed in each class are designed to expose students to the excitement of creative exploration and discovery.  With no preconception of what their work “should look like”, each student visually experiments with and manipulates their own images, responding intuitively to each unpredictable twist and turn in its evolution as they continually edit and alter it from one app to the next.  Ultimately, they arrive at a unique and personally determined conclusion with a new creative work of art.

Enjoy a few examples below and if you have a chance make sure that you pause the next time you are walking by and enjoy the entire show in person.

How Will We Make 2015 the Best Year for Pike Students?

EdTechTeacher and Google have partnered to create the EdTechTeacher Google Jamboree. The jamboree is a one day conference designed for educators including panel discussions, keynotes, and hands-on sessions at Google Headquarters in Boston on February 27th.  This is a chance for educators to learn from cutting edge thinkers and innovators in the field of technology and education and connect with other educators around the world. The event is limited to 200 participants.  To apply applicants must submit the answer to the following question ” How will I make 2015 the best year for my students?”  publicly in 250 words or less via a blog post, google doc, info graphic, image, poster, google slide, video, screencast or animation.  The following is my application and answer to the the question above.

EdTechTeacher start reading here.  

The Pike School is halfway into year two of our 1to1 iPad initiative in grades 6-9 and we are very excited about the opportunities that this initiative has already provided for our students. Students have created videos and iBooks to explain their thinking and show their understanding, backpacks are lighter, and students have access to a  world of knowledge at their fingertips throughout the entire day. To make 2015 the best year for Pike Students, the Pike Tech Department is taking advice from EdTechTeacher’s Justin Reich. In his checklist for “Moving Beyond Pockets of Excellence”, Justin recommends picking a small number of goals on which to focus, rather than, a large number of broad goals that can be more difficult to implement. The Tech Department has chosen these two of the six 21st century literacies from the National Council of Teachers of English to focus on with teachers and students this school year.

  • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes

To work towards these goals we are developing a four part course that will give teachers ideas, strategies, and training for classroom activities which will be available on this blog for teachers who cannot attend. We will be organizing Educamp style workshops for both teachers and students where the community can learn and share ideas. In addition, we will be assessing our progress via surveys to both students and teachers. Working in partnership with our teachers and students on these initiatives is going to make 2015 a great year!

21st Century Poster Board

“What if you could illuminate your ideas? Or hack your poster board project?” That’s just what the students in Ms. Spence’s language arts class did for their Scaredy Cat Project this fall.

Each year, sixth graders create a “Scaredy Cat’s Guide to a Spooky Neighborhood.” Their posters include a map with illustrations and five descriptive paragraphs. Within the writing, they must use vocabulary words they have studied and also identify various parts of grammar covered in English class during the fall, including abstract nouns, action verbs and linking verbs. Combining grammar and writing is a proven way to reinforce grammatical concepts and to improve writing skills.

This year, the project reached new levels of creativity with the addition of electrical circuits. During class, students learned about simple circuits, conductivity, and current flow, then created circuits on their poster board using simple materials like copper tape, surface mount LED lights and batteries. This allowed them to light up their ideas and add emphasis to the scary places on their maps.

As we know, integrating science, design, communication and art has become an important 21st century skill. Assignments like these ask students to think critically and creatively.

Inspire Creativity – Three App Smashing projects from Greg Kulowiec


Looking for new ideas to help students tap into their creative side?  Check out this post by Greg Kulowiec.  App smashing discussed in a a previous post is when “students and teachers use multiple apps to create individual pieces of content that are then merged or smashed together into one culminating product”.  Three App Smashing projects by Greg Kulowiec gives details on how to create ….

  1. Animated paper videos
  2. RSA animate style videos
  3. Video lab reports
  4. Art reflection videos

As always the Pike Tech Department is available to help you get started with these projects.